UK government wastes £26.3 billion on computer botch up

The UK Government has wasted more than £26.3 billion of taxpayers’ cash on computer projects systems that were delayed, over budget, or canned.

According to the Independent, the top 10 notorious IT failures account for the  equivalent of over half of the budget for Britain’s schools. 

Parliament’s spending watchdog has slammed the projects as “fundamentally flawed” and pointed the finger at ministers for “stupendous incompetence” in managing them.

The top waste of cash was Labour’s £12.7 billion IT scheme to revolutionise the NHS. Only 160 health organisations out of about 9,000 are using electronic patient records delivered under the scheme.

Few of these are hospitals and most are small GP practices. Apparently the few get any benefit from the project have been lawyers who have been paid £39.2 million for “legal and commercial support” for the National Programme for IT.

Alan Milburn, the former health secretary, said in 2001 that everyone would have access to their health records online by 2005, but it is understood that the Department for Health is still “years away” from doing that despite all the wasted cash.

Alistair Darling: UK gov picThere have been all sorts of other daft projects. One project that was meant to save the Department for Transport (DfT) about £57 million eventually cost £81 million. Another project at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was given a completed project that only used German.

In 2004, the Department for Justice gave the go-ahead for the National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis) which was supposed to make sharing information about crims easier. The plug was pulled on the project when it was estimated that it would cost more than £600 million. More than £155 million was wasted before the project was shut down.

Deep throats inside the government claim that ministers are too easily wooed by smooth talking suppliers with large drinks budgets. Apparently some ministers actually believe what sales people tell them.

More projects are now under renewed threat of being cut back or abandoned altogether as Alistair Darling, the Chancellor tries to tackle Britain’s record £175bn deficit.

Here is the Indi’s list of botched projects

  • £12.7 billion National Programme for IT (NHS)
  • £7.1 billion Defence Information Infrastructure (DII)
  • £5 billionNational Identity Scheme
  • £400 millionLibra system (for magistrates’ courts)
  • £350 million Single Payment Scheme system (SPS)
  • £300 million GCHQ “box move” of technology
  • £155 million National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis)
  • £106 million Benefit Processing Replacement Programme
  • £88.5 million Prism IT project
  • £81 million Shared Services Centre
  • Total: £26.3 billion